U.S. Searches for Ways to Pressure Iran

Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, talks with Lynn Neary about the latest on U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


We go now to Vali Nasr. He's professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He's been following developments between the United States and Iran. Professor Nasr, the Bush administration continues to insist that Iran suspend uranium enrichment before negotiations can begin, but Iran continues to refuse to do so. Do you see any progress here?

Professor VALI NASR (Department of National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School): Well this all depends on what would be the outcome of negotiations between Iran and the European three. There's going to be talks between Iran's chief negotiator and Javier Solana, the chief European negotiator, and that will decide where Iran will stand.

NEARY: What about sanctions? Just yesterday French President Jacques Chirac said he opposes sanctions. There doesn't appear to be a lot of support within the Security Council for sanctions against Iran. So what options are left for the U.S. to pressure Iran?

Prof. NASR: Well, there are fewer. I mean we always knew that the Chinese and the Russians were not likely to go ahead with sanctions. But the U.S. hoped that even without them there could be a coalition of Europeans banded with the United States to put sanctions on Iran. But with the French balking that would make it very difficult for the U.S. to have any kind of financial leverage over Iran.

NEARY: Do you expect that President Bush or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will pursue any form of negotiations this week in New York?

Prof. NASR: No, but they could set the context for negotiations to come. In other words, depending on the tone of their speeches at the United Nations they could either harden their positions of their countries, or they can open the door for greater conciliation in the coming weeks.

NEARY: Now both of them face political problems at home. How much of the rhetoric that we hear from both sides have to do with these domestic pressures?

Prof. NASR: A great deal. First of all, the president is obviously already looking to the 2006 November elections. And in Iran, Ahmadinejad has already staked his ground regarding the nuclear issue, so he cannot be seen to be backing away without getting some kind of reward in terms of Iran's nuclear position.

NEARY: All right. Thanks so much for joining us, Professor.

Prof. NASR: Thank you.

NEARY: Vali Nasr is professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He's the author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.